By Mara Certic
Members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee discussed the status of some of their pet projects, but also spent some time talking about what has become a regional concern on Long Island, the East Hampton Airport, at their first meeting of the summer season on Tuesday.
Many gathered in the basement of the Bridgehampton National Bank on Tuesday, for updates on local issues, and a presentation on the history of the planned development district (PDD) by former Southampton Town land-use administrator Jefferson Murphree.
The PDD talk, which followed the timeline of the law so far, starting in 1998, when Mr. Murphree, who was a town planner, Wayne Bruyn, who served as an assistant town attorney, and land-use administrator Bob Duffy wrote the legislation for Southampton Town, took up most of the meeting.
Before Mr. Murphree’s arrival, Bob Malafronte, a member of the Sag Harbor CAC and a former member of the East Hampton Noise Abatement subcommittee, came to update his neighbors to the South and ask for their support.
On Friday, May 22, Mr. Malafronte, who lives on the eastern side of Long Pond, said that he counted 29 helicopters that flew directly over his house in a span of just two hours, “and the route’s not supposed to be anywhere near me,” he said. Over the weekend, Mr. Malafronte said that he had noticed new traffic flying over Bridgehampton, “You guys are now getting a ton,” he told the group.
The assembled Bridgehampton residents were of two minds about whether or not the holiday weekend had created more noise than during previous summers. While some said that the issue wasn’t particularly bad this weekend, other disagreed.
Nancy Walter-Yvertes, co-chair of the committee, said that while her house on Ocean Road had not previously had a lot of loud aircraft overhead, on Monday afternoon when she was playing tennis in her backyard, “it was very, very noisy.”
Jemille Charlton, the airport manager, explained over the phone on Wednesday morning that route changes that the town began to put in place last year reduced the amount of air traffic flying over Wainscott, but did increase traffic over Sagaponack and Bridgehampton. But he stressed that residents should not be seeing any more traffic this year than they did a year ago.
On Tuesday morning, Jeff Smith of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council distributed the organization’s report of chopper compliance over the holiday weekend, which said that only four operations out of the 1,059 that took place Thursday through Tuesday morning did not comply with the prescribed routes.
Mr. Charlton, who uses a different program to track flights, said that Mr. Smith’s numbers were pretty much spot on. “The tower, the FBOs and the pilots worked very well together,” Mr. Charlton said about the holiday weekend. “Things flowed pretty well, it was pretty much an uneventful weekend, which is what I like around here.”
On the subject of noncompliance, Mr. Charlton said that the higher an aircraft is in the sky, the more difficult it can be to tell exactly where its ground location is, exactly what it is above. This means that the higher an aircraft is, the more likely it is to look like it is directly overhead. “That’s something you don’t really think about until you’re involved in this,” he said.
In other action, CAC member Leonard Davenport gave an update on “Wick’s Corner,” the CAC’s new name for the lot at the busy intersection at the east of the hamlet, where a CVS pharmacy is slated to go. The group decided to move forward in its efforts to find out more about the possibility of the town purchasing the parking rights from the owner of the lot. “My supposition would be that it would save [the owner] money,” he said over the phone on Wednesday morning, “and reduce his assessment.” The purchase would also help the hamlet contend with an existing parking problem CAC members fear a new CVS would exacerbate.
The eventual goal is that a combination of money from parking and park districts, the Community Preservation Fund, and private donations could purchase the lot from the owner, and turn it into a green space.
The CAC will be asking the town to look into the cost to the taxpayer, and will also ask that the property be placed onto the town’s CPF list.
“We need to be proactive in getting a willing seller and convincing the town to take part,” Mr. Davenport said.